Sunday 2nd January - The beauty of speaking more than one language

I went to Cafe Garcia down Portobello Road after church this morning for a spot of tea. Garcia's is a Spanish cafe that also gives its name to the delicatessen next door. It's a cute little place on the main road and is often very busy during market days.

Up and surprisingly awake from going to church, I arrived just before the tourists. Sitting sipping tea I heard one guy ask a woman in Spanish where the bathroom was. She said she didn't know and I couldn't help myself but suggest - in Spanish - that they might be upstairs. She looked surprised to say the least.

I've said it before but I'll say it again, I love being able to speak more than one language. I think compulsory languages at GCSE level is a must; in my view the younger you are taught the better.

When I was growing up I was taught both Tagalog and English and I'm much better off for it. I can go to the Philippines and not worry about someone scamming me for a pair of fake converses that are being sold at P1500 (£22) when really I can haggle them for P400 (£6).

At school I learnt French and Spanish, and at university New Testament Greek (ok so it's not spoken but still, it's a language). I know a bit of Italian and can count up to ten in a couple of languages.

Ironically though the classroom experience of learning a language is something I find difficult.I can't remember the rules for the subjunctive in Spanish but if someone asked me directions on the street I would be able to show them the way. Or if I needed to read a sign in Spanish I'm sure I could make out the basic gist if not understand what it's actually trying to say.

My point is that languages are amazing. If, when I have children, my husband speaks a language other than English I will suggest that he only speaks to them in his language and I in Tagalog. I will also suggest that we call our son Aquinas.


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  2. Languages are amazing. Even though you're not fluent in Welsh I think it's useful that you know a bit and can understand.